Meet the 4-H Canada Staff

Shannon Benner, CEO

Chief Executive Officer

Shannon Benner

As 4-H Canada’s leader and a visionary in the field of positive youth development, Shannon has more than 20 years of experience with youth development organizations. After getting her start with Outward Bound in western Canada, Shannon went on to leadership opportunities with several youth organizations, including The Princeton Blairstown Center at Princeton University, and the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation. Shannon was recently appointed as Chair of the Global 4-H Network Board of Directors, where she contributes her leadership skills and a Canadian perspective to the worldwide 4-H movement.  When she’s not brightening up the national office with her dedication, vision for positive youth development in Canada, and incredible sense of humour, Shannon spends time with her sports-crazy family: her husband, Chris, and her two sons. 

Executive Assistant

Trish Hill

When staff members have questions about 4-H Canada, they know it’s a safe bet that Trish has the answers. Trish grew up on a beef and dairy farm, and as a 4-H member, participated in a range of projects from dairy to rabbits to baking. Trish later attended Canadore College, studying Office Administration with a specialization in Office Systems, and joined the 4-H Canada team upon graduation. For the past eight years, she has been a hard-working and dedicated admin expert, helping to ensure the national office runs smoothly and efficiently. In her spare time, Trish has been heavily involved in competitive curling for more than 17 years, and has attended the provincial championships three times.

Programs

Program Director

Erin Smith

A true youth ambassador, Erin has worked to promote youth engagement for almost 20 years, both within Canada and around the world. As the creative mind behind our national programs, Erin is instrumental in creating and implementing 4-H Canada’s positive youth development program model, and outcomes-based youth engagement strategy. Erin loves building opportunities for youth to become engaged in their communities and take action on the issues that matter to them. She works hard to ensure positive youth development is alive and well, not just within 4-H, but also in her own home, with her tween and teen daughters. Erin also has a chronic travel itch, and is up for a road trip any day, especially if warm weather and snacks are involved!

Program Manager

Emily Brown

With a 4-H history that stretches back nearly 20 years, Emily is what the 4-H community fondly calls a ‘lifer.’ Hailing from the beautiful shores of Prince Edward Island, Emily is a student of the ‘Learn To Do By Doing’ mantra. After joining the 4-H movement at the age of eight, Emily’s commitment has never faltered. As the Administrative Director for 4-H PEI for the past six years, Emily has created and implemented some truly engaging, innovative, and high-quality youth programming. She joins our national team as the Program Manager, bringing along her leadership abilities, enthusiasm, and laid-back island charm!

Manager of Admissions

Sue Steeves

After living on a hobby farm in rural Quebec, Sue embraced her love of animals and enjoyed working in and managing two veterinary clinics for 22 years. In 2011 she returned to school, graduating with an Event Management Diploma before joining 4-H Canada in 2012. With a long list of strengths that include a razor-sharp eye for detail and an incredible talent for organization, Sue ensures 4-H’ers can enjoy well-planned and well-executed national programs, events, and opportunities. Sue also has a long history of promoting positive youth development. Having been involved in both Girl Guides and Pony Club as a youth, Sue has given back by helping today’s youth get engaged by volunteering her time toward everything from Boy Scouts activities to hockey and soccer team management.

Learning Specialist

Melina Found

Raised on a farm in Peterborough, ON, Melina is the fourth generation in her family to be involved in 4-H. Working for 4-H Canada was a natural choice for Melina, who connected with the organization’s focus on fostering positive youth development. A former camp counsellor and science teacher, she brings a true passion for youth engagement to 4-H Canada, and ensures our national programs run smoothly and efficiently. An avid traveller, Melina also has cross-cultural experiences that include studying in India and addressing food security issues with youth in Nicaragua and Jamaica.

Kelsey NorrisAdmissions and Travel Coordinator

Kelsey Norris

Kelsey graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in Social Sciences before moving on to Algonquin College where she obtained a Graduate Certificate in Sports Business Management. She spent three years working in the sports industry first as an intern with Equestrian Canada and then Own the Podium before moving on to the role of Program Coordinator with Wrestling Canada. In 2015, Kelsey participated in the Parapan American Games as a Results and Scheduling Coordinator.  An avid equestrian for 20 years, Kelsey can be found riding horses and competing at various competitions in her spare time. 

Marketing and Communications

Marketing and Communications Manager

Jay Poulton

Hailing from Montreal, Jay brings a wealth of experience, broad set of skills and bilingual ability to the 4-H Canada team. Following ten years as an owner, editor and writer for a successful publishing house, Jay moved into the communications field working for the World Federation of Hemophilia, an international not-for-profit. There he used his background in writing, his eye for design and his passion for photography to help transform their communications efforts—developing and publishing a wide range of communications materials and publications in both digital and print formats. Most recently Jay has worked as a Freelance Communications Consultant where he developed and executed multi-faceted communications strategies for a variety of private companies.

Sharon Photo

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Sharon Cheung

Sharon Cheung is a digital nomad, elevating stories through social media and public relations whilst exploring the world around her. Curiosity has led her to work in corporate, fashion, social justice, politics, not-for-profits, startups, women’s groups and arts and culture. Sharon is passionate about youth development and is deeply engaged in sharing 4-H’s rich stories of youth who Learn To Do By Doing.  

 

Funds Development

Erin HelmberFunds Development Manager

Erin Helmer

Erin joined 4-H Canada with over 15 years of fundraising and relationship management experience and a proven track record of exceeding fundraising targets. She is thrilled to bring her skillset to help 4-H achieve their positive youth development goals in Canada.  Erin started her professional career at The Canadian Opera Company during the capital campaign to build the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. She also worked in the healthcare industry raising funds for important life-saving medical equipment and innovative research projects.  Most recently, Erin held the position of Fund Development Manager with the Lansdowne Children’s Centre Foundation.

Funds Development Coordinator

Heidi Vallinga

Heidi is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University with a degree in Global Studies, and came to 4-H Canada after spending three years working in program and funds development at an international relief and development organization. Heidi was attracted to 4-H Canada because the organization allows youth to cultivate a wide variety of important skills through participation in 4-H programs. She also loves that 4-H Canada gives youth the opportunity to get engaged not only in Canada, but around the world. Outside work, Heidi is passionate about giving back and volunteers in Canada and internationally, working with various youth organizations that support literacy, mental health, and healthy living through sport and recreation.

Finance

Finance and Administration Director 

Don Singer

Don brings a wealth of financial and not-for profit management experience to 4-H Canada. His connection with rural Canada began when working with Farm Credit Canada and then subsequently serving Canadian agriculture through his employment with Farm Management Canada. The later afforded Don the opportunity to participate in the creation of learning resources for Canadian farm managers and marketing these publications, CD’s and DVD’s at many agricultural exhibitions and conferences from coast to coast. In his role of leading a national not-for-profit training and development organization for accountants in governments, Don introduced distant-learning to this community through a successful series of webinars. Beyond the workplace Don has served as a volunteer on several not-for-profit boards, been a travel agency group tour leader to numerous locations worldwide, and is a sports aficionado organizing an adult volleyball league, being a downhill skier and is a tennis enthusiast.

Finance Coordinator

Amanda Cackette

As our resident not-for-profit expert, Amanda has a Bachelors of Accounting degree from Brock University, and has specialized in municipal and non-profit audits since graduation. Outside the office, Amanda also volunteers and stays engaged in the not-for-profit sector. She has stepped up and volunteered her time to a local organization as a board member, fundraising committee chair, and finance committee member. 

Government Relations

Director of Government Relations

Elizabeth Jarvis

Liz brings a passion for agriculture and close to a decade of communications experience to the team. Liz has worked for Dairy Farmers of Canada doing strategic communications and government relations, working on a variety of files including research, international trade, animal health, food safety and environmental sustainability. Most recently, Liz worked for a public affairs agency near Parliament Hill, advising clients in a wide range of sectors on communications initiatives and media relations. Liz also has experience providing communications and public relations services to not-for-profit organizations and the Government of Canada. Born and bred in Ottawa, Liz loves to ski, travel and try new restaurants with her husband and their two young children.

Global 4-H Network Summit 

Global 4-H Network Summit Event Chair

Jennifer Christie

Jennifer is an influential marketing professional with a decade of experience in agriculture-based leadership roles including Dealer Development Manager with John Deere. She earned her MBA at the Ivey School of Business and was recently recognized as Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network.

Her authentic and dedicated relationship with 4-H began as a youth member in her local dairy club and has grown to include serving on the national board of directors and as a club leader.

Today, Jennifer is a strong advocate for youth, women, agriculture producers and challenging the status quo. She dedicates her time to her family’s 6th generation dairy and grain farm in Bruce County and as chair of the recently established Ag Women’s Network.

2017 Global 4-H Network Summit Event Manager

Hannah Plexman

Hannah brings exceptional global event management experience with her including for the Commonwealth Games, the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and, most recently, as Project Manager for the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship. Her strong background in events with Canadian and global diversity and her bilingualism make her ideal for this role and a great addition to the 4-H Canada office. Hannah’s roots run deep with 4-H as she was a 4-H member in Kemptville, Ontario in her youth.

Ryan Baan PhotoGlobal 4-H Network Summit Communications Intern

Ryan Baan

Entering his final year at Carleton University in the Bachelor of Commerce, Honours program, Ryan is a 4-H alumnus from Huron County. He brings with him a wealth of experience in the 4-H program, having participated in several 4-H Ontario opportunities and he believes strongly in the value of 4-H. Active in his school community, Ryan is currently the Vice President, Marketing of the Sprott Business Students’ Society. Ryan is responsible for developing communication materials while supporting the digital channels and PR strategy related to the Global 4-H Network Summit. His experience, combined with his attention to detail, drive for success and passion for 4-H will serve him well in this role.